tv CNN Special Report CNN September 9, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
that empty place ♪ ♪ i'll be strong ne following is a cnn special report. >> a cnn exclusive, candidate trump's foreign policy advisor -- >> george papadopoulos, excellent guy. >> he has conspiracy information. >> i have information that the clintons have thousands of e-mails. >> sits down with cnn. >> it seemed to you like it was perhaps the russians trying to hire you to be a source for them, possibly? >> my impression -- this is my impression -- >> a story of intrigue.
>> there was a lot of trade craft, spy craft going on around my life. >> mysterious meetings. >> $10,000 in what? >> $100 bills in a dodgy room in tel aviv. >> new revelations? >> you told the greek f.m. a and -- foreign minister and the next day his wife? >> interesting to think we were two spies falling in love. >> the mysterious case of george papadopoulos. george papadopoulos came to washington as a promising young "politico" and even landed a seat at the table with then candidate, donald trump. but the campaign's foreign policy advisor finds himself a convicted felon, spending time
in prison for lying to the fbi. >> did you lie to the fbi? >> why did you lie to the fbi? >> some would say -- i probably was confused by my entire situation. i was looking to get a job with the white house, or at least the administration. at the time, perhaps i wanted to distance myself from this investigation that pinned me in between the federal doj and the sitting president. >> how did someone like george papadopoulos, young and inexperienced though with a well stamped passport, end up at the center of one of the most consequential investigations in american history. as we discovered, wherever george papadopoulos goes, international intrigue follows. >> what's your reaction to george papadopoulos's guilty plea? >> thank you very much. >> president trump in a tweet, after you were arrested, he said
quote few people knew the young low level volunteer named george, who proved to be a liar. is that a fair assessment of your role in the campaign, low level volunteer? >> i'm certainly not a campaign chairman or steve bannon or michael flynn, i also wasn't serving coffee. i don't think the campaign would have invited me to speak at the rnc the way they did if i was a coffee boy. >> you spoke at the convention? >> yes. >> not exactly. papadopoulos spoke at a cleveland during the time of the convention. still, resume patting is part of the papadopoulos mo, especially after president trump introduced him. >> george papadopoulos, and energy and oil consultant.
>> reporter: critics seized after he was listed as model u.n. as a credential. he worked on the ben carson for president campaign where he says he prepared him for debates and before that, traveled to cyprus and the hudson institute. >> i jumped in with high level officials after leaving the bush administration. scooter libby, these are really my mentors. >> it's the job papadopoulos had just before he joined the campaign that seems to prove pivotal. this is the london center of international law practice. behind its unassuming brick facade lies one of the central mysteries of george papadopoulos's story. what is the london center? according to its website, they provide training to individuals
quote seeking to expand their knowledge of emergent and controversial issues in international law. when we asked the director of the center, peter dovevy, to explain the center's business model, he hung up on us. papadopoulos said mostly the london center asked him to attend conferences, like this one in rome, a meeting that would change the course of his life and launched the mueller investigation, an economic from malta, taught in rome. >> we met at the university. he took a liking to me right away, as he certainly was introduced to me as somebody that could help me meeting with organizing the russians and other meetings as well. this was a mid-50s high level
diplomat in europe and malta and numerous think tanks in europe and has connections and of course i thought this was an individual who could help me as a young advisor to campaign and open certain doors and my accolades. >> he was interested after he found out you were going to work for the trump campaign? >> yes. >> did he bring up russia sore was it you? >> my understanding he brought up russia. said it looks like your candidate is interested in working at the russian geopolitical government. and president trump was very vocal about working with russia from the beginning. >> eager to impress the trump campaign with his international connections, began touting his relationship.
as the campaign picked up steam, papadopoulos and the professor began to talk regularly. >> he called me and said, let's grab breakfast or lunch at the hotel in london and basically drop as bomb on me. >> what does he say? >> i have information that the russians have thousands of clinton's e-mails. >> what was your reaction? >> my reaction at the time and to this day, he was simply repeating gossip and rumors, because he was unable to connect me to anyone of substance in russia, he might have been trying to describe himself as some sort of kremlin insider or individual with high level connections. it struck me but i wasn't shocked because i never heard something that wasn't already rumored to be -- that clinton's state department server might have been hacked. i never heard the word dnc or
podesta, i never heard anything of that nature. it wasn't really anything i felt that was that shocking. >> it wasn't momentous, it wasn't a big moment? >> it was -- it struck me as somebody who was validating rumors. i felt he was more trying to plant the seed to let me know he is a serious person, he has a lot of connections and he might have been doing his own -- he might have had his own reason to tell me this. i have no idea at this point why he told me that information in london. >> he said he heard this from people in moscow? >> he told me, i'm returning from russia and this is what i'm hearing. i never heard from who what, when, everything was ambiguous and vague. >> it was cast as damaging to hillary clinton, right? dirt, they have their e-mails and dirt on it. >> the former adversary has the
secretary of state's e-mails, of course that's dirt and could be very destructive to our country. >> did you tell anyone? seems like a big deal, i might want to tell a friend or colleague or report back to the trump campaign. did you tell anyone? >> all i can say, i've been asked this question a million times, if i did, it would have been discovered by now. >> you answer this question it would have been discovered? >> at this point, i don't remember. >> this is one of the most important question to be resolved in the mueller investigation. is there proof papadopoulos did share this bombshell with any of his colleagues on the trump campaign. the senate judiciary sent over a request for any communications between papadopoulos and two policy advisors. rick dearborn and john mashburn even going so far to ask for
document searches including multiple spellings of papadopoulos's name. they did not respond to requests for comment. >> earlier this year, the new york times reported john mashburn, currently at the department of energy, was a campaign official at the time, he said, in the judiciary committee of the senate, he had a recollection of you sending an e-mail alluding to hillary clinton's e-mails. >> i met john once and my wife at the rnc convention along with dearborn. if there was an e-mail as john is alluding to, software various members of the campaign copied on this, it doesn't matter if i deleted it, what i was trying to say, they would have had receipts of my e-mail. i don't think there is proof provided. >> you think he -- they will not
say you wouldn't tell anyone on the campaign? you didn't share it with lewandowski? >> no one. >> walid farris, none of them? >> i might have, but i have no recollection of doing so. all i can say is my memory is telling me i never shared it with anyone on the campaign. >> that meeting, as you know, is the reason that operation crossfire hurricane, the fbi investigation, into possible conspiracy between the russians and the trump campaign, why that operation, the fbi operation was launched, because of your meeting with mifsud and he making that offer. >> actually, it wasn't an offer. >> he wasn't trying to see if you and the campaign wanted --
>> no. >> he was saying, i heard this? >> yes. like i say, it was interesting. like you said, it was a momentous statement. i never heard e-mails, this is where you can get them. >> do you think it's possible in spy craft, the dangle, here's this thing and he wanted you to say, oh, we could really use those. >> jake, according to public documents today, it seems there was a lot of trade craft, spycraft going on in my life around that time. i wouldn't disabuse the notion he might have been dangling to see if i would bite or the campaign would bite? >> but you didn't? >> in what sense? exactly. >> you didn't say you want those e-mails, you didn't convey it? >> as far as i remember from this meeting two years ago, absolutely not. >> we of course wanted to hear professor mifsud's remembrance
of this conversation. he has all but vanished according to the documents. members in the uk here say they haven't seen him recently. we spoke with his lawyer, man named stefan rowe, offices all around the world and fashion designer wife. he actually worked and was sent on a mission. he refused to answer any questions about who would have directed this mission or why. the fbi had no comment. >> why didn't you tell them about mifsud right away? they say you didn't. the fbi says they had to prompt you to get you to talk about mifsud. >> they asked me if any russian government official ever discussed hacking or e-mails and i stated, no.
and then after that, i said, now, wait a minute, there was this guy, a maltese professor, who told me about hacked e-mails. it's maybe the words were a bit parsed, but i certainly did disclose the name of the individual that told me about this potential crime. >> now, we have indictments of 12 russian military intelligence officials, indictments of russian businessmen who deal with the internet, allegations that the russians clearly were interfering in the election to help donald trump. with the knowledge you have now, looking back at what mifsud told you, what's your reaction? >> actually, i was very disappointed we don't know more about mifsud today than we did before. i guess i was a little disappointed after a year we
still don't know who this person is, what his role was, if any, in hacking or disseminating and obtaining this potentially dangerous information. i was expecting much more about him. maybe it's classified. next, how cocktails with an ambassador ended up launching an fbi investigation. >> he said that you quote mentioned the russians might use material they have on hillary clinton. was it possible you said that? >> anything is possible, jake.
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-i can still taste it in my mouth! -progressive helps keep you out there. . in march, 2016, trump was leading his rivals by a wide margin but struggled to gain support from the establishment. >> the establishment don't know what they're doing, have no clue. >> eager to show off what support he had, trump released this policy team meeting at trump tower. >> when did you meet donald trump? >> march 31st. >> there's a photo of you, donald trump is there, what did they talk about in terms of russia and putin? >> as far as i remember, it was i who brought up anything regarding russia. i was under the impression it was someone i met in rome and
the so-called professor was able to provide high level connections in a summit or meeting mostly for a photo-op. i sat down and looked at candidate trump direct lin his eyes, i can do this for you if it's in your interests and in the campaign's interest. the collective energy in the room. of course, there were some dissenters, but the collective energy in the room seemed to be interested. >> collective energy, was donald trump interested? >> the candidate gave me a sort of a nod. he wasn't committed either way. i took it as he was thinking. >> senator jeff sessions was there, too. >> yes. >> at the table. what was his response? >> my recollection was the senator was actually enthusiastic about a meeting between the candidate and president putin. >> you say then senator and now
attorney general sessions was enthusiastic about the idea of candidate trump meeting putin but he has said the exact opposite. in fact, first, he said he didn't know of any surrogate on the campaign trail having any contact with russians. after you pleaded guilty, he testified before congress -- >> i do now recall the march 26th meeting at the trump hotel that mr. papadopoulos attended but i have no clear recollection of details he said at that meeting. after reading his account and to the best of my recollection, i believe i want to make clear to him he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the russian government or any other foreign government, for that matter. >> he's saying that he wanted -- he remembers, or at least he's claiming he remembers telling you don't do it. that doesn't square with what you remember? >> what i remember was the
senator at the time was enthusiastic. >> how did he convey that enthusiasm? >> as far as i remember, this is a meeting that occurred two years ago, this is a good idea. >> this is a meeting that is a good idea. he says he testified before congress he quote pushed back when you raised the possibility of a meeting with russia. that's not true, you're saying? >> i don't remember that. >> you don't remember him pushing back? >> no. >> you remember him saying this was a good idea? >> i remember him being enthusiastic about a potential meeting between the candidate and president putin after i raised the question. >> attorney general's lawyer said he testified under oath about his recollection of this meeting and he stands by this testimony. when that photo was taken no one could have predicted the storm that was coming, a storm called "crossfire hurricane," the fbi
investigation that threatens to take down the trump presidency because of a conversation at this wine bar between papadopoulos and australian ambassador for the uk at the time, alexander downer. >> for an australian to reach out to me out of the blue considering i had no background or relationship, i found it odd, i have to say. initially i thought it was very odd. >> downer has only given one interview describing your meeting, i want to read to you describing his version of the events. said the russians might have information that might be damaging. he said, according to this interview you said the russians had material that could be damaging to hillary clinton, is it possible you said that. anything is possible, jake. i have absolutely no recollection of ever mentioning that to this individual. he might have heard something, he might have misremembered himself.
i certainly have no memory whatsoever of talking to this person about that. >> downer did not respond to cnn's request for comment. while papadopoulos disputes he told the ambassador that night at the wine bar about the hillary clinton e-mails, for the first time, papadopoulos tells cnn he did tell another top foreign government official that russia claimed to have hillary clinton's e-mails. >> i went to greece after the campaign authorized me to go meet with greek officials for the sole purpose of actually understanding what the u.s.-greece relationship was. when i was in greece, i met with the greek defense minister and the greek foreign minister and the prime minister. >> what did you talk to them about? >> during a meeting i had there with one of the ministers, he explained to me that where you are sitting right now, tomorrow, putin will be sitting there. in a nervous reaction i had, i
blurted out, i heard this information. >> you told the greek foreign minister a few weeks after jose joseph, the professor said the russians had e-mails? >> yes. >> do you know if he confirmed it? >> i have no idea. >> he declined to say what was discussed. one week after that meeting, donald trump jr. had an e-mail saying the russians had documents and information that would incriminate hilly. >> there will be people who say you told the greek foreign minister but didn't tell your supervisor on the campaign. that's hard to believe. >> i completely understand that. one was gossiping with diplomats. that's what diplomats do.
i'm not a diplomat but you understand in washington people spread rumors and gossip. it's not uncommon. to actually sit around and try to conspire with a campaign and tell them, this is what i heard, i have no memory, no. next, another strange encounter. >> he presented some sort of shady business proposal to me for $30,000 a month, a pr consultant for an energy firm in russia. >> and later, the mysterious, mrs. papadopoulos. >> it was an invitation everywhere and beautiful yachts. from any one else. why accept it from your allergy pills? flonase sensimist relieves your worst symptoms, including nasal congestion, which most pills don't. it helps block six key inflammatory substances. most pills block one. flonase sensimist.
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in july 2016, just as the democratic national convention was about to begin. wikileaks published thousands of e-mails that had been stolen from the server of the democratic national committee. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails missing. they probably have them. i'd like to have them released. >> while the fbi was investigating who stole the e-mails, george papadopoulos was still trying to set up a meeting between trump and putin, when
another mysterious character walked into his life. he had been a member of the real estate scene even appearing on this episode of bravo. >> he stated in quite confident terms he was working for trump real estate projects, he was promoting the real estate endeavors of trump. >> this is when? >> this is july 2016. >> that same month, sergey gave his meeting to abc news claiming to have sold real estate in russia a claim michael cohen denied. >> the trump team realize we have a lot of connection with russian investors and will bring them from russia. >> at the time, they named him in the steel dossier.
>> he will like russia because he likes beautiful russian ladies and he likes talking to them of course and he likes to be able to make a lot of money with russians. >> he presented some sort of shady business proposal to me i rejected flat out about you work for me for $30,000 a month as some sort of pr consultant for energy firm in russia, which i never understood who it was, where the money was coming from and why me, except the qualifier was i had to work for trump at the same time. i just rejected it flat out and i started to be very suspicious. >> it seemed to you to be perhaps the russians trying to hire you to be a source for them, possibly? >> my impression, and this is my impression, i have no evidence to back up anything except how i felt at the time and why i rejected it, this individual was
proposing this at the behest of somebody else. i don't know who. >> that wasn't the last unusual offer papadopoulos would get from a stranger. >> in september of 2016 -- >> you're still working on the campaign? >> i received an e-mail message from stefan halpern, a professor. >> you knew him before? >> i googled it. a senior person at cambridge, worked for ne u.the u.s. govern under four presidents and i thought might be something to entertain. he said, i want you to write a paper for me on your expertise, gas in israel and turkey and cyprus. i thought, of course, i have no issue with that. nice honorary of $3,000. flight to london, stay in a hotel for two or three days of work. i joined him about a week later
over drinks at the hotel in london, where all of a sudden he pulls out his phone. everyone has phones when they meet with me, and he places it in front of him and he begins to tell me, so, george, of course, hacking is in the interests of your campaign. of course, the russians are helping you, these open-ended questions. of course, you're probably involved in it, too, that's correct, right, george? i told him i have no idea what you're talking about because of course i had nothing to do with the russian interference or hacking whatsoever. then he began to sweat, his demeanor changed, he became quite aggressive in his questioning which led me to believe -- >> aggressive how? >> when i wasn't giving him what he wanted, his voice would change. his tone would basically try and detail to me that he thought i was lying and i'm being a bad person for lying to him. >> about hacking and about the
trump campaign conspireing with the russians to do the hacking? >> exactly. exactly. >> papadopoulos's suspicions were confirmed after the "washington post" revealed, he was indeed working as a confidential source for the fbi as it investigated russia's interference in the campaign. he met with sam clovis and carter page. >> by the time we're in september, 2016, you have been approached by so many individuals with odd agendas, it looked like a lot of different countries and intelligence agencies and individuals were trying to get you to get them information or get you to become an agent for them. >> of course, i had suspicions
at the time or else i would probably be looking at far worse charges than i am today. >> but you didn't go to the fbi during any of this time? >> no. >> in retrospect, you think you should have? >> in retrospect, yes. that's why also i'm very happy i did present information during my interview to them in january. >> while papadopoulos was cooperating with them in the fbi, he also launched a whirlwind international romance. >> i never experienced anything like it that fast. >> and yet another mystery. >> you're in a dodgy hotel room in tel aviv. this weird guy gives you $10,000. what does he tell you it's for? >> i never understood. that's why i was terrified. fisher investments tailors portfolios to your goals and needs. some only call when they have something to sell.
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if you're in touch with these people during the transition, you will probably get a job somewhere in the administration. once i left the inauguration festivities, i went back to chicago, where i was, you know, looking to organize my life and apply formally and move to washington in the hope of gaining a job with the administration, but it didn't happen that way. >> you're in the middle of applying for the job with the administration and the fbi came calling? >> yes. i'm in the shower, i get out, i'm shaving, and my phone is next to me, i receive a call from a strange number, i pick it up, this is the fbi, we're outside your house. >> just as his political future was crumbling, his personal life was heating up. >> it was love at first sight. >> meet simona mangiante, george papadopoulos wife. they met via linked in in the fall of 2016s and had their first date in new york in spring
in 2017. >> we kept in contact for the next couple of months and then i invited her to greece with me. >> that's the second date. >> despite being under scrutiny by the fbi and jobless after being rebuffed by the trump administration, she took papadopoulos on a whirlwind tour. yachting in athens and partying with friends in capri. >> george was the star. the public relation of the island was taking us everywhere. we were meeting and everybody was at the party, communication everywhere, bottles of champagne everywhere. beautiful yacht of the millionaires, greek girlfriend. >> how were you paying for all of this? i had savings. i guess it could be expensive to go to europe. it's not overwhelmingly
expensive. having family helps sometimes, always contributes. >> papadopoulos seems to have a snack for attracting characters offering him cash under questionable circumstances. take the case of charles towel. >> i met charles during a meeting at the aipac convention host annually. >> was he israeli? >> israel american. i was entertaining going into the private sector after i was done with the fbi. if he's somebody who has contacts in the middle east like he supposedly does, plaib there's synergy. maybe there's synergy. don't hear from him until i go with simona. >> he did? >> you remember? >> i think he was e-mailing you. >> i need to see you.
>> okay. i'm with my girlfriend. what do you want to talk to me for? this individual was talking but never said anything at the time. never said anything. he said, george, important for you and simona to come to tel aviv and we have business to talk about. you need to be there. i said, okay, simona, you want to come on a quick one day trip to tel aviv? >> this sounds suspicious. why not send a business proposal. why he needs you to go to tel aviv only three days later. >> strange. >> doesn't make any sense. >> you go to tel aviv. what happens? >> i still don't understand what's going on. i need you for something. here's $10,000 cash. $10,000 envelope? >> in $100 bills. stack of $100 bills, in a dodgy room in tel aviv which i felt
was completely under surveillance. >> you're in a dodgy hotel room in tel aviv. this weird guy gives you $10,000. what does he tell you it's for? >> i never understood. >> you did take it that moment. >> yes, that moment, when you don't understand what's happening, things are so fluid, you actually feel fearful and you just want to actually escape, instead of rejecting and you don't know what the consequence might be. >> so the sentencing recommendation by bob mueller says you understand charles to be an agent of a foreign government. did you, at the time, thought he was a spy? >> i thought he could possibly be. >> who did you think he was a spy for, israel. ? >> i don't know. >> charles towel tells cnn george asked for the loan in cash before going to greece with simona. he says it was for work they would do on an oil and gas
project in cyprus and towel denies being an israeli agent. papadopoulos decided it was time to head home where his vacation came to a screeching halt. >> i'm about to put my passport in the kiosk to get my permanent re-entry into the united states. they show their badge, this is the fbi. then, all of a sudden, you're under arrest. >> they said you're under arrest for what? >> this is what happens when you don't tell us about your russia contacts and now we want you to cooperate. i go in front of the courts. they say, you're looking at 25 years in prison. >> did they tell you why you were phasing 25 years in prison? >> it was obstruction of justice and lying to the fbi. i spent one night in jail. then, i went to chicago and just let my lawyers understand i want to cooperate and help my country. >> next, are the lovebirds actually secret agents? >> we'll never know. >> we'll never know.
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been speaking out, even testifying before congress. you are from italy? >> yes. >> you are from italy. your accent is hard to place. it almost doesn't sound italian. >> i speak five languages. i have been working as a diplomat for a few years. i studied abroad in the united states. my background is international enough to contaminate my accent. >> she attracted the attention of the fbi. >> on the day george was in washington to pled guilty on 5, october, 2017, fbi agent knocked mother's house door where living at the time to deliver a subpoena by mueller to testify in front of grand jury in washington, d.c. the fbi agent told me if you want, you can talk with fbi agents in chicago and if we are happy with your interview, we will eventually drop off the subpoena. i took the chance. >> you talked to them, the fbi
agents in chicago. >> yes. >> what did they want to know? >> that's the interesting question. part of the interview was about george and part of the interview was about me. they were trying to profile me in light of my background. i was under the perception that i could be foreign agent from europe. they ask me if i was communicating overseas. they were interested to know what i was doing, if i was discussing business with george or with anybody else. then they ask me if george invited me, was paying for my ticket. how could he afford these expenses? how could i afford my expense and my lifestyle? i gave a number of answers. i was under the impression they
were putting forward the fantasy of me and george being two agent working together. that's the conclusion the interview led to. >> you were an at from where? >> they ask if i speak russian, if i was full italian, if i had one passport or more passports, if i was familiar with russian people in london. >> have you been to russia? >> yes, i did. >> you have been to russia, but you're not russian? >> no. i'm italian. 100% italian. >> where did they think he was from? where did they think he was an agent for? >> i never understood. maybe in the light of other things happened, i suspect they thought could be an israeli agent. >> secret agents in love? a wild theory perhaps.
but the papadopouloses play up the notion that they are the stars of a real-life spy thriller. >> mr. and mrs. smith. >> maybe. nobody believe it. probably it's more interesting and fun thinking that we were two spies falling in love, maybe. we don't know. >> we will never know. >> right? >> i will never know about her. she will never know about me. >> perhaps not surprising then that she is now pursuing a career as an actress in hollywood. >> you have been going on tv to try to talk to president trump and ask him for a pardon. do you think that's a possibility? >> if trump should be a possibility. actually, something that i really expect him to do after all george has been through. he has been loyal to trump. he has been loyal to his country. >> i think the president is going to make whatever decision
he is going to make on his own. i don't feel it's my -- it's not appropriate for me to discuss this directly or indirectly to him at this time. my wife has her opinions, of course. for me, i don't think it's appropriate at this time. >> what are you going to do? >> i don't want to give up my goals of staying in politics. i'm still a young person. i'm 31 years old. i achieved working at politics at a high level at a very relatively young age. once i'm done supporting my wife's project in california, i certainly would love to entertain jumping back into politics. >> running for office? >> yes. >> really? >> yes. i think i have something to give back to this country. i think this country has given me so much and has given me such grand opportunities. i'm the son of an immigrant father and my mother was born in greece. this country has given me so much. yes, i made many mistakes. i'm going to pay for those mistakes.
i certainly would not want those mistakes to forever prevent me from running for office, seeking public -- helping the public good. that's what i'm planning on doing eventually. >> of course, before the george papadopoulos for congress campaign can begin, he will have to serve 14 days in prison. while the rest of us wait to see where the russia conspiracy investigation goes next. i've always looked forward to what's next. and i'm still going for my best even though i live with a higher risk of stroke due to afib not caused by a heart valve problem. so if there's a better treatment than warfarin, i'm up for that. eliquis. eliquis is proven to reduce stroke risk better than warfarin. plus has significantly less major bleeding than warfarin. eliquis is fda-approved and has both. so what's next?
seeing these guys. don't stop taking eliquis unless your doctor tells you to, as stopping increases your risk of having a stroke. eliquis can cause serious and in rare cases fatal bleeding. don't take eliquis if you have an artificial heart valve or abnormal bleeding. while taking eliquis, you may bruise more easily and it may take longer than usual for any bleeding to stop. seek immediate medical care for sudden signs of bleeding, like unusual bruising. eliquis may increase your bleeding risk if you take certain medicines. tell your doctor about all planned medical or dental procedures. eliquis, the number one cardiologist-prescribed blood thinner. ask your doctor if eliquis is what's next for you. cardiologist-prescribed blood thinner. (burke) so we know how to cover almost anything.en almost everything even "vengeful vermin." not so cute when they're angry.
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